Today is International Women’s Day – make a pledge for parity

I have pledged to ‘help women and girls to achieve their ambitions’.

The most important determinant of a country’s competitiveness is it’s human talent via the skills and productivity of its workforce.

Organisations must illuminate the path to leadership, showing women the career and advancement opportunities that match their skills and professional objectives and provide the experiences necessary to fulfil their potential.

Individuals can commit to advocating for themselves, and when appropriate, becoming effective role models and sponsors of women to help them achieve their goals.

I first attended an Adam & Co (private bank) International Women’s Day (IWD) event about eight years ago. I was invited along to drink cocktails and chat to other women in business. At the time it felt more like a ‘girl power’ social event, not really getting to grips with the challenge of gender equality.

It wasn’t until I really had the opportunity to hear from a passionate CIPR board colleague Sarah Hall in 2014, where she led on a piece of work with the CIPR, which issued a commitment to its members and the wider Public Relations profession to tackle the issue of equal pay for women and gender balance in the workplace.

Sarah then went on to use the CIPR’s report (see below) to call the PR industry to action, to grow up and take equal pay seriously.

The current assumption that a gender pay gap exists solely as result of women starting families, taking extended maternity leave, and working part-time, can now be declared dead. This is firmly an issue of corporate culture.

About the PR balance

The CIPR’s research in 2015, “highlighted that a clear pay inequality gap of *£8,483 exists in favour of men, a figure that cannot be explained by any other factor such as length of service, seniority, parenthood, or a higher prevalence of part-time work amongst women. Findings also reveal the biggest influences on the salaries of all public relations professionals; with gender identified as the third biggest influence on salary, more so than education background, sector of practice, graduate status, and full-time/part-time status.”

In January this year the CIPR also held a debate at the House of Commons. The motion ‘Requiring large firms to publish pay data will end the gender pay gap in a generation’ was proposed by Mary Whenman, President at Women in PR and seconded by Lisa Townsend, a lobbyist and former Conservative parliamentary candidate. Sarah Pinch, CIPR Past President, led the opposition of the motion, and was supported by Stuart Bruce, CIPR Council member and Founder of Stuart Bruce Associates. Read the full report here.

The World Economic Forum in its Global Gender Gap Report 2015 estimates it will take until 117 years to achieve global gender parity in the workplace. One hundred and seventeen years until companies and governments are equally led by men and women. And 117 more years of talent pipelines and professional promise not fully realized. Read more here on the EY website. It’s right when it says “The world economy is driven by sustainable value and business growth, which depend upon attracting, optimizing and retaining all talent. It’s in every organization’s and every nation’s best economic interest to fully utilize and optimize the talents of women.”


This is not a tick-box exercise and it’s not for the feel good factor!

What can we do?

#1 Recruitment and selection process – fair decisions on salary and work

#2 Better access to training

#3 Encourage mentoring

#4 Expertise and knowledge, systems and processes ensuring equality

#5 Equal work within jobs

#6 Best practice with job reviews

#7 A path to leadership with career advancement opportunities

#8 Consider paternity leave and flexible working in your corporate culture

#9 Build supportive environments

The CIPR’s gender pay resources is a good place to start and the IWD website hosts many resources too.

I recently blogged on PR mentoring and I’m demonstrating my action with this pledge for parity (#pledgeforparity).

I’d also like to include The PRofessionals, Scotland’s first PR festival in this discussion; there will be a presentation by Sarah Hall, editor of #FuturePRoof and also a panel session on diversity which includes three international agency founders (Claes, Graham and Farzana). There will be an opportunity for questions and discussion, so let’s ask the speakers what they are doing about gender parity!

Play your part and make a pledge for parity

International Women’s Day 2016
#PledgeForParity is the International Women’s Day 2016 campaign theme. Take action. Make a pledge below to help accelerate gender parity.


*Please note: findings revealed a gender pay gap of £12,591 in public relations. The pay inequality gap was revealed after detailed regression analysis, the details of which can be found in the final 2015 CIPR of the Profession report.

Infographic credit: EY

Thanks for reading this blog post by me, Laura Sutherland. I encourage you to share it with colleagues and peers and challenge them to make a pledge for parity.